Avoiding Simple Carbs Over the Holidays

Carbohydrates: Simple vs Complex


The main difference between simple and complex carbs is the fiber content.  Simple carbs have none and complex carbs are loaded with them.


Simple carbs are all the sugars and refined flours found in baked goods, soft drinks, processed foods, and alcoholic beverages.  If we want to have a healthy microbiome (the sum total of all the beneficial bacteria both inside and outside our bodies), a healthy digestive system, we avoid simple carbohydrates.


Complex carbs are full of vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and fiber that help us to function physiologically at optimal levels.  The operative word here is fiber.


The thing to remember is that 3 nutrients slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood stream: fiber, protein and fats.  


During the holidays, so many parties include foods that we normally avoid.  Appetizers invariably include breads, crackers, and chips.  Choosing more healthful “delivery systems” for otherwise healthful dips and spreads is a better idea.  Try some of these recipes and serve them with vegetable slices for dipping.


The following recipes incorporate healthy fiber-filled carbs, proteins,and fats.



Into the bowl of a food processor, place the following:

2 cans drained and rinsed garbanzo beans (or 3 cups cooked)

large handful parsley

2 green onions, rough chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

6 tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)

1 tsp. sea salt or to taste

6-8 tbsp. lemon juice

¼ tsp. cayenne, or more to taste

½-1 tsp. ground cumin

1/3 cup olive oil


Process, blending to a paste.   Serve with veggies.  Or organic corn chips.


Artichoke Spread

1 jar or can of artichoke quarters, in brine, drained

¼ cup roasted red peppers

½ tsp. garlic powder, or to taste

½ tsp. sea salt

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Juice of ½ lemon

Freshly ground black pepper

1-2 tbsp. olive oil


Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to puree and combine all ingredients.  Taste for acid-salt balance, and correct.  Add more or less garlic, more or less lemon, more or less Parmesan cheese as suits you.  Very forgiving recipe.


You can also make it with a small package of goat cheese, if you like, adding all the rest of the ingredients plus 1 tbsp. dry white wine.  Serve with vegetable dippers.


White Beans with Fresh Sage

1 can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1-2 garlic cloves, minced fine

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2-3 leaves fresh sage, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper


Heat the olive oil over medium low heat and stir in the onion and garlic with the sage and a pinch of sea salt.  Cook, stirring, until softened.  Add the beans and heat through.


Best eaten with a fork these are delicious.  Garnish with fresh sage leaves.


Roasted Red Pepper Spread

1 roasted red pepper from a jar packed in olive oil

1 small pkg goat cheese (I like Haystack Mountain varieties)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp grated Parmesan or Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast flakes

1 large basil leaf, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 tsp olive oil to loosen the mixture


Place all ingredients in a food processor and process to combine.  Add just enough olive oil to loosen the mixture and serve.